Lawmaker drops controversial bill to force sale of U. Iowa Pollock painting
There are many controversies that swirl around the work of abstract expressionist Jackson Pollock. But the debate surrounding a Pollock painting owned by the University of Iowa, Mural, is much more budget-minded than arty.
The 9-by-20-foot painting was donated to the university by an art collector several years before the artist's death in 1956. At that time, the painting was likely only worth thousands at most, but in 2008 it was valued at $150 million, according to the Des Moines Register.
That three-digit-million-dollar asset has some state leaders drooling. In 2008, the university's board of regents studied the possible sale of the painting to finance rebuilding after a destructive flood. This month, a Republican representative in the Iowa Legislature sponsored a bill to force the university to sell the painting and set up a trust fund to finance thousands of scholarships for in-state art students and, possibly, also some liberal arts students.
To put it simply, the bill sparked a passionate debate. Art students and faculty members protested. The university president and state governor both cautioned that such a bill could deter future donations to the university. The American Association of Museums threatened to revoke the university's museum accreditation if it sold the painting.
On Monday, the representative withdrew the "Pollock bill" so lawmakers could focus instead on passing the state budget, the Daily Iowan reported. Rep. Scott Raecker told the student newspaper that the issue had become "so polarized that reaching consensus is unlikely."
What do you think? I am interested to hear your thoughts in the comments section.
| February 22, 2011; 12:25 PM ET
Categories: News Overload | Tags: University of Iowa
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